As one of five children, Norma Hudnall jokes that she comes from a long line of overachievers. Today at 68, the former counselor is still competing.
Hudnall runs a 7:18 mile, and last spring, the Spartanburg resident competed in the World Masters Indoor Track and Field Championships representing Team USA and the Atlanta Track Club. She took home the bronze in the triple jump and long jump, placed seventh in the 800-
meter race and took sixth in both the 1,500- and 3,000-meter races.
“I couldn’t do it without the peer pressure of my 5:30 a.m. running group,” Hudnall says about her rigorous training schedule that keeps her in top form.
But having competitive sports open to her wasn’t always a given. Hudnall competed in high school tennis, but when she came to Clemson in 1968, no women’s sports were recognized by the NCAA.
“I was dating this guy who was on the fencing team, and they let me fence with them,” she says. But awards weren’t hers to take home. Despite the roadblock, she feels like she’s making up for lost time now.
She began racing at age 40. Since then, she’s run 10 full marathons, including ones in Boston, Honolulu and Ireland. When she turned 60, she started running for the Atlanta Track Club, competing in her most recent events in South Korea. “I just decided to start experimenting with steeplechase and triple jump, and quite frankly, it’s just more fun to compete in more than one thing.”
Hudnall says naysayers who worry about injury or ailments keeping them from pursuing similar endeavors shouldn’t have so much trepidation. “One of my problems has been arthritis, and the first line of treatment for arthritis is exercise. I have severe scoliosis and spinal stenosis, and exercise can only make it better. Running can be therapeutic. But there’s also walking or water aerobics or cross training. Exercise is a good injury preventer as you age.” And that’s sage advice from an overachiever who hits the track every morning.